Saturday, 11 July 2009

Manners Of Giving Sincere Naseeha/Advice

- An extract of an article by Kamil Mufti in Al Jumuah Magazine.

Seeking the Pleasure of Allah by giving Naseehah

It is necessary that a person has the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah when giving naseehah. Only such an intention deserves reward from Allah and acceptance from His slaves.

If the intention is other than that, then that person deserves the anger and wrath of Allah as well as the hatred and rejection of the people - including the one being advised.

Not slandering the one being advised

This is an affliction that has befallen many Muslims. Many times, after taking a closer look, we find that the person giving naseehah actually wants to slander the person he is advising because of personal hatred. This does not befit the one being advised and may lead to a worse situation with no benefit resulting from the naseehah.

Naseehah is to be given in secret

Naseehah is most likely to bear its fruit when given to a person when he is by himself, for in such a situation the person is less likely to be affected by the thoughts of others. The sincere advisor should not aid the Devil over his brother by publicly rebuking him and letting Shaitaan beguile his brother into not taking the naseehah. This closes the doors of goodness and acceptance, and reduces the chances of the naseehah from being accepted.

This is why our pious predecessors used to give naseehah in secret. Hafidh Ibn Rajab writes, "When the righteous predecessors intended to give naseehah to someone, they admonished him privately, to the point that some of them said, "The one who exhorts his brother between him and himself , then it is naseehah. The one who exhorts him in front of people, then it is merely scolding!"

Fudail Ibn Ayyadh, one of the pious scholars from our predecessors, said, "A believer covers up and gives naseehah, whereas an evildoer exposes and humiliates." Ibn Rajab commented on Fudail's saying, "It is naseehah if it is with a cover, while humiliating is with broadcasting."

Naseehah is to be given with kindness, gentleness and softness

A sincere advisor must be kind, soft and well-mannered in giving naseehah to others, as this might get the desired response from the one he is advising. One must understand that accepting naseehah is like opening a door, and that the door will not open without the proper key. The one who is given naseehah has a heart that has a lock in some matter - for he has abandoned something that Allah has demanded from him, or has committed something that Allah had forbidden him from. There is no better key to unlock the heart than kindness in giving advice, gentleness in exhortation and softness in speech as the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, "Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty, and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective." [Muslim]

Do not compel others to follow one's Naseehah

It is wajib (obligatory) on the advisor to render sincere advice to others, but it is not his right to compel others to follow his advice as well. That is the right of the Muslim ruler upon his subjects or a Muslim Qadhi (Judge) in his jurisdiction. A sincere advisor is one who guides toward goodness, but he is not to command others to act upon it.

Ibn Hazm writes that one should not give naseehah on the condition that it must be accepted, otherwise if one goes beyond this, he will be oppressing not advising, and seeking obedience and control. In another passage, Ibn Hazm writes that if a person is mistaken in his advice, he would be expecting people to follow him in his mistake.

Choosing the proper time to give Naseehah

The one giving naseehah must choose the right time to give his advice, since a person is not always ready to receive naseehah.A person may be angry about something, upset about not getting what he wanted, grieved for something he may have lost, or there may be some other reason that might prevent him from responding to the naseehah.

Abdul Hamid Bilali writes, "Choosing proper time and place is one of the greatest causes for the acceptance of naseehah and eradicating evil", and as Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud said, "Hearts (sometimes) yearn and are attentive, but (sometimes) they go through lapses and feed repulsion. So take from them when they are (in a state of) yearning and are attentive, and leave them alone when they go through lapses and are feeling repulsion."

Naseehah that is against Islam is not to be followed

Giving naseehah is part of Sharia. Therefore, if someone gives advice to leave a deen demanded by the Sharia or to perform a forbidden deed, then it is not called naseehah. The one giving such should quit doing that and the one being advised should not accept it. For instance, if someone tells you to shave your beard, to expose some part of the body by taking off the hijab, to shake hands with women on job interviews, to date the girl you are interested in, to take a job at a gas station that sells alcohol, or to go see the latest movie, then you should not obey. These matters are not counted as naseehah which the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) made part of the religion.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Death in Islam part 2

The following hadith talks about what happens after a person dies.

From Al-Baraa’ ibn Aazib (ra), who said:

"We went out with Allah’s Messenger (saws) with the funeral of a man of the Ansar and we came to the grave and the niche in the side of the grave (al-Lahd), had not been dug out yet, so Allah’s Messenger (saws) sat and we sat around him as if we had birds upon our heads, and in his hand he had a stick with which he was striking the ground. Then he raised his head and said: ‘Seek Allah’s refuge from the Punishment of the Grave,’ two or three times. Then he said: ‘When the believing servant is leaving this world and going onto the Hereafter, angels with white faces - as if their faces were in the Sun - descend upon him. With them is a shroud from the shrouds of Paradise and perfume for embalming from the perfume of Paradise, so they sit away from him at the distance the eye can see and then the Angel of Death (as) comes and sits by his head and says: "O good soul, come out to forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure." He said: "So it comes out, just as a drop flows out from the mouth of the drinking vessel, and he takes it but does not leave it in his hand even for the blink of an eye until they take it and places it in that shroud, and that perfume, and there comes out from him a smell like that of the best musk found upon the face of the earth." He said: "So they ascend with it, (i.e. the persons soul) and they do not pass by any group of Angels except that they say: ‘Who is this good and pure soul?’ So they reply: "So and so, the son of so and so." with the best of his names which he used to be called by in this world, until they come to the lowest Heaven, and ask that it should be opened for him, so it is opened for him, they accompany him through every Heaven until he is taken up to the seventh Heaven, and Allah the Al-Mighty says: "Write the record of my slave in Illiyon (signifying highness) and return him to earth to his body." Then they say: "Who is your Lord?" So he will say: "My Lord is Allah." So they will say: "What is your Deen?" He will say: "My Deen is Islam." So they say: "Who is the man who was sent amongst you?" So he will say: "He is Allah’s Messenger." So they say: "How did you come to know that?" So he will say: "I read the Book of Allah, and believed in it , and attested to it." So a caller will call from Heaven: "Indeed My servant has spoken the Truth, so spread a place for him in Paradise, and a open a door to Paradise for him, so some of its fragrances and scents come to him and his grave is extended as far as the eye can see." He said: "A person with a Handsome face, and beautiful clothes and good smell comes to him and says. ‘Receive good news, which will please you. This is the day which you were promised.’ So he says to him: "Who are you?, since your face appears to signify good." So he says: "I am your righteous actions." He therefore says: "O Lord, establish the Last Hour. O Lord establish the Last Hour - so that I may return to my family and wealth."

But when the unbelieving servant is leaving this world and going into the Hereafter, angels with black faces descend upon him as far as the eye can see. The Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and says: "O foul soul, come out to Allah’s displeasure and anger." So the soul spreads throughout the body, so he (the Angel of Death) drags it out, just as a pronged roasting fork is pulled out of wool. So he takes it, but does not leave it in his hand for the blink of an eye until they put it in those coarse sack cloths. Then there comes from him an offensive stench, like that of the foulest smelling corpse rotting upon the face of the earth. So they ascend with it (i.e. the soul), and they do not pass by any group of angels except that they say: "what is that foul smell!" So they say: "So and so, son of so and so," calling him with the ugliest names which he used to be called with in this world, until they come with him to the lowest heaven, and ask permission to enter, and it is not opened for him." Then Allah’s Messenger (saws) recited:

"...for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of a needle (which is impossible)." (Qur'an Al-Araf 7:40)

Allah (swt) says: "write his record in Sijjeen (a name signifying constriction) within the lowest earth." Then his soul is flung down, and he recited:

"...and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place." (Qur'an Al-Hajj 22:31)

So his soul is returned to his body and two Angels come and make him sit up. Then they say to him: "Who is your Lord?" So he will say: "Ah, ah, I don’t know." So they will say: "Who is this man who was sent amongst you?" So he will say: Ah, ah, I don’t know." So a caller will call from heaven: "You have lied so spread a place for him in the Fire, and open a door to the Fire for him." So some of its heat and scorching air comes upon him, and his grave is constricted to the extent that his ribs interlace, and a man with an ugly face, unsightly clothes and smelling offensively comes to him and says: "Receive news of that which will grieve you, this is the day which you were promised." So he will say: "Who are you?" He will answer: "I am your evil actions." So the unbeliever will say: "O Lord, Do not establish the Last Hour."

It is important for us to read and reflect upon the hadith and imagine ourselves in such a situation. Once we are touched by death, there is no going back. There is nothing more we can do to improve our status in the eyes of Allah (swt). We can never be sure how long we have. Would we continue to live the way we do if we knew we'd die today?

"Until when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: "O my Lord! Send me back in order that I may work righteousness in the things I have neglected..." (Qur'an Al-Mu’minun 23:99-100)

Allah accept the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy, for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now have I repented indeed’, Nor of those who die rejecting faith; for them We have prepared a punishment most grievous." (Qur'an An-Nisa 4:17-18)

Friday, 3 July 2009

Death in Islam part 1

With the unexpected demise of Michael Jackson, it makes one ponder about one's own lifespan. Was MJ's death really premature? All of us were born with our time of death fixed.

"Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed by writing..." (Qur'an Al-Imran 3:145)

You have asked from Allah about durations of life already set, and the length of days already allotted and the sustenance the share of which has been fixed. Allah would not do anything earlier before its due time, or He would not delay anything beyond its due time. (Muslim)

People die everyday. No one is certain of when his/her time will come. The only thing one is certain of is that every one will die.

"Every soul shall taste death. And We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us must you return." (al-Anbiyaa 21:36)

"Wherever you are, death will find you out. Even if you are in towers built up strong and high." (al-Nisaa 4:78)

'Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, 'Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler." The sub-narrator added: Ibn 'Umar used to say, "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your lifefor your death."

Allah explains to us that our life is a trial and our purpose is to worship Allah (swt) and to enjoin good.

"O you who believe fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in the state of Islam" (al-Imran 3:102)

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) recommended that we remember death often:

“Make mention of the destroyer of desires (i.e. death) very often.” (Tirmidhi)

However we should never wish for death:

Allah's Apostle said, "None of you should long for death, for if he is a good man, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil-doer, he may stop the evil deeds and repent." (Bukhari)

Allah's Apostle said," None of you should long for death because of a calamity that had befallen him, and if he cannot, but long for death, then he should say, 'O Allah! Let me live as long as life is better for me, and take my life if death is better for me.' "